British child migrants who suffered sexual abuse at Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia plan a silent vigil outside Royal Commission public hearings in Perth next week.
Thousands of youngsters – some aged only three – were from 1947 shipped to Australia from Britain, often without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and sent to institutions survivors describe as more like concentration camps than children’s homes.
While inspections by a UK government committee blacklisted many of the institutions in 1956, children continued to be deported until 1970.
The fortnight of hearings, starting on Monday, will be the first time the British abuse survivors, who were placed at the Bindoon, Castledare, Clontarf and Tardun orphanages, will give public testimony to the Royal Commission.
Norman Johnston, who was sent to Clontarf in 1950 aged eight, said they hoped the investigation provided answers as to how they were allowed to be treated so cruelly in Australia and why children were taken from their beds and trafficked to Australia.
“We have waited all our lives for this moment, a chance for the truth to be told in public. Whilst it is a momentous day we still know that so much remains hidden,” Mr Johnston said.
“We are thankful for the apologies from government, both in this country and the United Kingdom, but we still do not know the full truth about why were we taken from our parents and given to those who made our lives a living hell in Australia.”
He also called on the UK government to set up a judicial inquiry into the matter.